Rayguns Look Real Enough are back in Edinburgh with their unique blend of mash-up rock and tiger suits (well, just the one tiger suit in fact).

And this time they're heading to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Maybe. Well, they've definitely named their show 'Hall Of Fame'. ThreeWeeks found the band's stars Ray Gun and Luke Reel at the bar and asked them some quick questions. Click here to read the interview.
Veteran Edinburgh type Jason Cook – Clatterschenkfieternmaus alumnus and creator of TV's 'Hebburn' – back this year with his latest show 'Broken', surveys the desolate Fringe landscape for one particular type of downtrodden participant. All hail the flyerer... [click here]
It's the Week Three edition of the ThreeWeeks Podcast with ThreeWeeks Editors' Award winner Kate Smurthwaite and Edinburgh Comedy Award newcomer nominees Lazy Susan.Plus we have songs from the Voca People, a poem from Matt Roper's alter ego Wilfredo, and a snippet from 'Werewolf Erotica, She Wrote'. [click here]
Former police sergeant and star of Radio 4's 'It's A Fair Cop', Alfie Moore, always likes to give some time, while at the Fringe, to explore the whims and ways of Scottish law and law enforcement. And after a few more weeks entertaining the local law enforcers (amongst others) he now shares some thoughts on how legal matters differ North and South of the border. [click here]
The Total Theatre Awards are back for another Fringe, celebrating, in the programme's own words, "artists and companies presenting innovative work within devised theatre, live art, visual performance, mime, puppetry, physical theatre, experimental theatre, clown, circus, street, immersive, outdoor, site specific performance and more". It's a wide remit, though the simpler definition is in the title I guess, 'total theatre experience'.

No less than 436 shows were eligible this year, and the Total Theatre team saw each of them in the early stages of the Festival. "The assessors are looking for new ideas and examples of excellence" says awards producer Jo Crowley. "And we spend a lot of time discussing the craft and skills employed in the work, the relationship between form and content, consideration of the audience, and the rigour with which the work is made".

The assessors meet regularly to discuss the shows they have seen, eventually producing a shortlist which was announced last week. And that kickstarts a second stage of judging, with a panel charged with the task of selecting overall winners in the four categories that sit under the Total Theatre Award umbrella.

"It's been an incredible year for shows across all four of the Total Theatre Awards categories", Awards Associate Natalie Querol says. "In addition to awards for physical and visual theatre, we also have one for innovation, experimentation and playing with form, another for emerging artist or company, and this year also the Total Theatre And Jacksons Lane Award For Circus".

Circus shows have grown in number at the Fringe in recent years, the genre being specifically name checked in the Fringe Programme for the first time in 2014. "The Total Theatre Awards have always recognised circus within its nominees and winners" says Crowley, "and over the years there has been a proliferation of world-class circus at the Fringe".

The Awards' Associate Producer Becki Haines adds: "For 2014 we have teamed up with Jacksons Lane, widely acknowledged as the UK's leading supporter of small to mid-scale circus, to introduce The Total Theatre And Jacksons Lane Award For Circus. This will launch a critical dialogue about circus as an art form in its own right at the Fringe and will award a company or artist that is advancing the medium and helping to create new audiences for contemporary circus, from artists both at home and overseas".

This year's overall Total Theatre winners will be announced later today. Look our for news on the winners at


The Amazing Bubble Man (Louis Pearl)
Louis Pearl, aka The Amazing Bubble Man, has been appearing at the Festival for many years now, and these days can command a large audience in a sizeable venue. The last time I saw him was at one of the C venues, in a smaller room, with a smaller crowd; it's breaking the rules of a ThreeWeeks review somewhat to labour on venue issues, but have to say it: the bigger venue means it's harder to see the smaller and more intricate creations when you are sitting at the back. That said, I am middle-agey (argh) with failing eyesight; my daughter, sitting next to me, could probably see it all. Plus, it's still utterly fabulous to see all the big bubbles, the clever bubbles, and the you-can't-believe-he-just-did-that bubbles. Super.
The Assembly Rooms, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Caro Moses]

Mildred In The Midnight City (HookHitch Theatre)
A surprisingly large cast created a gentle and atmospheric children's show with this story of an ordinary woman who does some extraordinary things to put things right in a world gone wrong. The tale is rendered via some nicely orchestrated puppetry and shadow puppetry, and there's a warm, sweet, dream-like quality to the performance. I can't help thinking that this will play better with a slightly older audience; I think younger children might find the plot a little hard to follow in places, and the understated nature of the performance might prove not-quite-stimulating enough for some. That said, there were toddlers in the audience who seemed quiet and happy; so whether or not it's suitable for your child is possibly a question of personality. One for kids who can sit still!
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]

Comedy Club 4 Kids (Comedy Club 4 Kids Ltd)
Like many adult Fringe comedy shows, this has a changing line up, and it's always difficult to adequately review such shows, because you never know what you are going to get another time. What I can say, though, is that host Tiernan Douieb is a brilliant and endearing compère and adeptly keeps the show running smoothly along; I think he's there all the time, so that can only be a good thing, and the profile of the acts who appeared the day we went is a good indicator of ongoing quality. Thom Tuck and Luke Toulson made good use of the heckling crowd of kids and several (my daughter included) excitedly made what might be considered their stand up debuts. Lots of fun for everyone in the room.
Assembly Roxy, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Caro Moses]


Glenn Cosby - Food Junkie (Brett Vincent for Get Comedy)
After reviewing comedy Chrises I turned my attention to cooks. Well, specifically bakers. Well, specifically cake-icers. Because in 'Glenn Cosby: Food Junkie' the icing on the cake is 50% of the show, as the one-time 'Great British Bake Off' contender talks you through a recipe for cake decoration while sharing his life-story. Neither recipe nor life-story would themselves a show make, but together it kind of works. Partly because of Cosby's challenge of storytelling while simultaneously ensuring the eggs don't get over-whisked. And partly because he's such an affable guy; laughs maybe moderate, but you can't help smiling throughout. Which makes your jaw ache. But you can get things moving again with the free cake distributed at the show's conclusion.
Assembly Roxy, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Chris Cooke]

The Jest (The Jest)
The Jest have returned to the Fringe this year with a reduced cast; just five actors instead of nine to manage all of the running around, bizarre sketches and occasional embarrassing of audience members. Their sketches are clever and original with generally just the right amount of weird (although we may have crossed that line with the arrival of the Granddad sketch!) The changes between scenes are precise and obviously well-rehearsed, making for a seamless show. They even manage to glean laughs from audience participation sketches, and as for their characters... you'd struggle to find a better Maggie Smith impression anywhere. It's a top class hour, and certainly feels like they've raised the bar for sketch comedy.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

Liz Peters - Toybox (Liz Peters / La Favorita Freestival)
Behind a wide smile that never diminishes, and despite insisting that she wants to spread joy to an audience that she tells us she loves, there is a consistently miserable undercurrent to Liz Peters' musical comedy. Her songs reflect life's injustices and disappointments, frustrations with internet dating and Claudia Winkleman but, tempered by goofiness and relentless cheer, Peters ensures that the show never feels less than exuberant. Short bursts of stand-up material serve as extended introductions to each sing-along song. Her exaggerated expressions, her obsession with bums and the violent content of her bouncy music suggest that Peters is verging on derangement, but her show is dripping with satire and silliness.
Cowgatehead, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Tim Bano]

Luke Toulson - Laid Back Grouch (Luke Toulson / PBH's Free Fringe)
Parenthood and getting older are fairly well trodden comedic ground, but there's a reason for that: they'll happen to quite a lot of people who also happen to like comedy. Where Luke Toulson veers from the worn path somewhat is, rather than sentimentality, he focuses on the less positive things which parents think about their offspring (but cannot say aloud). Interspersing other fun flights of fancy about cats, strip clubs, 'The Sound of Music' and the case for introducing class A drugs into nursing homes, Toulson combines a likeable stage presence with an agreeable, laid back delivery. Although the pace does sag a little in places, it's largely an enjoyable hour of good comedy.
Cabaret Voltaire, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Joey Page - This Is Not A Circus (with PBJ Management)
You sense Joey Page has probably watched a lot of Stewart Lee's routines, though if you're going to take your comedy inspiration from anywhere, why not one of the best? The stories are utter nonsense of course, but charming nonsense, and the more bitter asides seem genuinely heartfelt. Page illustrates one scene with amusingly bad cartoons, though, like Lee, it's his words that paint vivid pictures in your mind, however absurd the scene being described. It's slightly shambolic, especially during the 'game show finale', but it works. And as you find yourself passing a brown-paper covered beach ball over your head to the row behind, you suspect Page is now destined to become a leading name in British cult comedy.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Chris Cooke]

Mark Grist & MC Mixy - Dead Poets' Death Match (Phil McIntyre Entertainments by arrangement with Independent Talent)
In 'Dead Poets' Death Match', we're asked to pick from a selection of Mark Grist and MC Mixy's favourite poets – from Plath to Byron, Burns to Rosetti and more. They then do a rap or poem about the poet's life, and one about how they relate to that poet. This might sound dry, but the duo bring real wit and affable humour to proceedings, helped by the 8-bit beat 'em up game on the screen behind them. We end with a death match between two of the poets (in our case, Walter Raleigh versus Gil Scott Heron). Come if you want to see some serious trash talking between the greats of literature.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Ray Peacock - Here Comes Trouble (Avalon Promotions Ltd)
The "trouble" in question here is largely of the self-inflicted variety. Turns out that's the result of being bipolar: "if my life were a boxing match, it would've been stopped years ago". And it nearly was, in a failed suicide attempt which Ray Peacock boldly mines to fine comic effect. If that sounds dark, it is, but the anarchic, gag-riddled tales which Peacock recounts with wit, skill and warmth- variously involving Beliebers, the police (repeatedly) and assorted online foolishness - more than leaven the seriousness. The only really troubling thing (other than how those 'best jokes of the Fringe' people missed his 'Noel Edmonds is a cunt' gag, which is a beauty), is that there aren't more people in the audience. Not long left, Edinburgh - sort it out.
Underbelly, Bristo Square, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

An Evening With Patti Dupont (Anna Emerson / La Favorita Freestival)
If one thing's true of Anna Emerson's dark character comedy, it is that it's unexpected. We don't actually get an hour with the dubiously-honoured Patti: ageing film actress, serial monogamist and double-jointed dancer. Instead,we meet her daughter Linda, a kowtowing neurotic who's constantly bullied by her mother (even via mobile phone while she's on stage). Emerson is brilliantly flaky as Linda, rattling through Patti's life story in all its bizarre and unseemly details. The show plays on that kind of cringe comedy that makes you want to peer at it through your fingers, and there are some moments just too uncomfortable and unnecessary to be funny. However, you can't help but root for Linda and the ending is sweet enough to make it all worth it.
St John's, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Laura Gavin]

Joseph Morpurgo - Odessa (The Invisible Dot Ltd)
If you ever get a dose of Fringe ennui, I unhesitatingly recommend Joseph Morpurgo's 'Odessa' as the cure. Working with thirty seconds of found footage from early 80s Texas, Morpurgo crafts a bizarre, utterly hilarious tale of intrigue, mining every last pixelated detail of his source material for comic potential. His characters are darkly compelling creations, each with their own warped inner logic and razor sharp script. He also manages to engage the audience, drawing us in as co-conspirators in his twisted fantasy, through deliciously barmy and unexpected interactive elements. 'Odessa' is a weird wonder of a show; a silly, sinister, screwball tale that will have you crying with laughter and talking about it for hours afterwards.
Pleasance Dome, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Andrew Bell]

Kevin Day - Standy Uppy (So Comedy by arrangement with Troika)
Kevin Day has briefly removed himself from his career, as a 'Have I Got News For You' writer and professional football enthusiast, to dip his toe back into the unforgiving waters of stand-up. While he certainly has the pedigree, Day comes across as slightly uncomfortable on stage but, after an 18-year hiatus, maybe that's to be expected. Despite a plethora of brutal put downs aimed at deserving villains (Jim Davidson, Rebecca Brooks), Day does try to find some meaning in his show and it almost works. He has clearly undergone an almost spiritual transformation recently, but can't yet work out how or when to fit that into his comedy hour. It's entirely believable that he will return next year with a much-improved show.
Gilded Balloon, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [David O'Connor]

Milo McCabe - Troy Hawke (IMWP)
Sporting a pencil moustache, slicked back hair, cravat and the curious affectation of a feather, Troy Hawke solemnly informs us that his father died during an unusually long David Niven anecdote. McCabe's creation is a camp take on a 40s throw-back, providing a fair excuse to sidestep the finer points of political correctness in search of laughs. After unsuccessful attempts to form the Men's Rights Association, he has more luck with the female equivalent, eventually becoming "king of the feminists". The tricky sexual politics of the Mister Men (and indeed the Little Misses) are taken on with aplomb and, though the ending is a little laboured, the man with the feather mostly hits the ticklish spots.
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bruce Blacklaw]

Rhys Nicholson - Eurgh (Underbelly Productions in association with Century Entertainment)
For someone known for his razor-sharp, take no prisoners wit, Rhys Nicholson's inspiringly named 'Eurgh' has a lot of heart (and a pleasantly surprising amount of inflatable llama). Nicholson is a very confident, flamboyant entertainer and, while he occasionally borders on the predictable or repetitive, his skills as a performer (as well as the guard llama versus sheep debate) soon overshadow these shortcomings. It seems strange that this show isn't gathering a larger, more enthusiastic crowd because it certainly has an audience out there. Fans of the more graphic side of penis-related comedy, as well as those who like some theatrical flair with their laughs, will be right at home with Rhys Nicholson.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [David O'Connor]

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (The Showstoppers - Something For The Weekend)
A wonderful example of showmanship and entertainment, 'Showstopper!' is a dazzling improvised musical. Improvised shows are sometimes the hardest to pull off, but to do it literally singing and dancing is an even more impressive feat, especially when the cast do it this well. Ruth Bratt's number, as a beauty pageant contestant whose special talent is that of a contortionist, done in the style of 'Miss Saigon' was an incredible highlight, but the whole show sparkled. It's just a shame that occasionally when singing, the same line would be repeated over and over again, beating an initially good joke to death. Regardless, in its seventh year at the Fringe, 'Showstopper!' remains an incredibly impressive and distinguished piece of entertainment.
Gilded Balloon, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]


Ali Affleck With Vieux Carre And The Copper Cats (Alison Affleck)
A set of mostly lesser-known jazz numbers are given a hot, up-tempo swing treatment in this is bold, enjoyable show. Singer Ali Affleck is supported by a proficient five-piece, who nail the roaring 20s sound with a line-up including clarinet and tuba. Local hero Colin Steele dominates with accelerating solos on a muted, gorgeously rusty sounding trumpet. Between them they build a huge sound that practically demolishes the intimate venue, but unfortunately tends to drown Affleck out. She has a good voice though, and takes obvious pleasure in belting out her favourite songs, stealing the spotlight back with a gutsy version of 'Egyptian Ella.' Brash and brassy, this fun gig has plenty of energy and heart.
Outhouse, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

Short Stories – True Song Tales From The American Edge (Kiya Heartwood)
It's easy to like a performer who calls herself shy, then vigorously headbangs to a song about Walt Whitman. Singer-songwriter Kiya Heartwood has a disarming openness which fills her short set with warmth. She plays straightforward acoustic folk, studded with occasional blues riffs and bluegrass flurries. Though at times her earnest lyrics feel naive, it's the true stories behind them that become the real focus. Built on bitter-sweet nostalgia for America's past, they're populated by steelworkers, rabble-rousers and underdogs of all kinds. Channelling down-home friendliness and shades of Janis Joplin, Heartwood is a fine and engaging storyteller. Quickly winning over the crowd, she soon has the audience singling along, and leaves them pondering those seldom told tales.
theSpace @ Surgeon's Hall, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

Mata Hari In Eight Bullets (Onalea Gilbertson)
I didn't actually count the bullets in this production, but they made me jump every time they punctuated this sad tale. The story of this modern song cycle is that WW1 spy Mata Hari was innocent, had a wretched life and was abandoned finally to the firing squad by the influential men she bedded. Gilbertson plays this brittle and abused woman convincingly, she sings well and was accompanied attentively and sensitively by her pianist. The burlesque-style physicality of the performance was appropriate to the lyrics, bringing life to the tale of this dancer and courtesan. At times I felt the performers were better than their material, however: tragedy demands good tunes and on this hearing I couldn't pick one out.
Acoustic Music Centre @ St Brides, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 l [Louise Rodgers]


UCAS (Off Track Theatre)
Despite oodles of talent, Off Track's production, about a teacher urging errant students to apply for university, seems shallow and false. Jude Obermüller's score slides between chromaticism and schmaltz, while Holly Bellamy's lyrics are stuck in predictable rhyming couplets. The musical has a corny 90s 'kidz wiv problemz' feel, particularly when Ajay, wearing a backward baseball cap, launches into a rap. The falseness comes from the fact that serious themes – commercialisation of university degrees, tuition fees, social inequality in successful applicants – struggle to emerge amid camp choreography and caricatured characters. This is not to detract from the brilliantly slick young cast and tight orchestra. Just that their great efforts are applied to a musical that does not take a serious theme seriously.
Greenside @ Nicolson Square, until 23 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Tim Bano]


Alexis Dubus - Cars And Girls (Alexis Dubus)
Confessing that he doesn't know much about either cars or girls, poet Alexis Dubus tells a story of travels in search of nonchalance. His verses have a gentle gonzo journalism feel - still full of drugs and adventures but revealed in a calm, playful and friendly way. He spins imaginative metaphors – his body is a steak, and his soul just a side – but always goes for the flow of the story over the rhythm of the line, squeezing out some of the rhymes so that he can suck the audience into his absorbing narrative. Retrospectively revelling in the spirit of adventure, Dubus has created a slick hour of biographical poetry which he delivers with eloquence and unassuming charm.
The Stand Comedy Club V, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Tim Bano]

Stand-Up Tragedy (Stand-Up Tragedy / PBH's Free Fringe)
Fringe exhaustion kicking in? Can't stand another hour of one man and a microphone, desperate to make you laugh? 'Stand-Up Tragedy' is a show for those tired of jokes. A combination of poetry and storytelling, this show has real potential, but their general premise of "tragedy" just feels too vague to create a cohesive show. This meant our evening veered from a gentle story about Countdown and playing word games with your nan, to an odd ode to fennel. Hannah Chutzpah was a highlight, however, with a lovely poem about the need to ask for permission. With a different line up every night, there are bound to be some genuine joys (or sorrows) in this show – just not the night I was there.
Banshee Labyrinth, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 2/5 | [Gemma Scott]


Bottleneck (HighTide Festival Theatre)
Fucking hell. This one-man show may be about a child, but there's certainly nothing childish about James Cooney's raw, visceral performance. Playing a Liverpool football fan who is involved in the Hillsborough disaster, he's a phenomenal combination of pure energy and childlike bravado, striding and diving over every inch of the large stage. There's humour here too, as Greg describes his pitiful attempts with girls and his overwhelming desire to grow a "mussie". Luke Barnes' script is emotionally devastating, looking at themes of masculinity, friendship and the role models available for a teenager trying to make sense of the world. An intense, engaging production, provoking tears and cheers from an audience who had been subconsciously holding their breaths as the inevitable tragedy unfolded.
Underbelly, Bristo Square, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Gemma Scott]

The 3rd Sector (Pure Theatre LLP)
'Transplants for Britain', the charity at the centre of this satirical play, is an organisation with no heart that wants you (literally) to give it yours. With crass soft toys, a head of PR who learnt his trade at a soft drinks giant and a publicity campaign that looks increasingly fraudulent, the fictional organisation is disturbingly plausible. It's a neat catalyst for the play to question the dangers of the corporate environment in which charities operate. Paolo Chianta's new work abounds with sharp, darkly comic exchanges, overshadowing occasional moments where the plot felt a little cluttered with tangential detail. With some strong performances, albeit not quite flawless delivery, this is a provocative production with plenty of life.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Sarah Richardson]

Away From Home (Hartshorn-Hook Productions and Working Production Theatre)
In this one-man play, a male escort begins to fall in love with his premiership footballer client. Rob Ward puts in a strong central performance as Kyle, bringing a toughness and charm that is immediately captivating, but also showing the vulnerability of a man slowly losing control over a situation where he is clearly being exploited. Rob Ward and Martin Jameson's script is vivid, sharp and funny, even if it does slightly skim over the more sinister sides of prostitution. Despite a working class lead character, don't go to 'Away From Home' expecting 'Pretty Woman' meets the Premiership. Instead, expect a heartfelt insight into homophobia in one of the landmarks of British culture.
Assembly George Square Theatre, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]

Blood At The Root (Penn State University)
'Blood At The Root' is a production by Penn State University, dealing with themes of race, sexuality and high school tensions. The beautifully choreographed piece uses dance, beatboxing, singing and poetry, as well as traditional theatre. Opening with a wonderfully written poem, delivered by the entire cast, this really sets the tone of the piece. The cast is strong and all the performances convincing. The play covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, but it intricately weaves the different strands of the story together, and the simple set allows the stylistic choices and the storytelling to remain the main focus. 'Blood At The Root' is a well put together production: engaging, emotive and well worth a watch.
Assembly George Square Theatre until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

How Does A Snake Shed Its Skin? (Slip Of Steel / Susanna Hislop)
One woman, three women, one show. Susanna Hislop is flawless in her performance of three giants of womanhood. Portraying Margaret Thatcher, Virginia Woolf and Marilyn Monroe all at the same time, this hectic and often chaotic show is a constant bombardment of dialogue. Hislop flits so quickly and effortlessly between characters (and neuroses) that it's sometimes hard to keep up, but it's always worth the effort. Strangely beautiful, the piece is intricate in both writing and delivery. Written using the personal thoughts of the three women, this is an unusual and poignant look into their private lives. Funny, sad, but mostly compelling: go with an open mind and prepare for it to be blown.
Summerhall until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Bethan Highgate-Betts]

The Lieutenant Of Inishmore (In Your Face Theatre)
In a movie, when a character is led into a room lined with sheets of polythene, they tend to realise what's in store for them pretty quickly. In the same way, when an audience is led into a room lined with polythene, then given ponchos and bin bags to protect themselves from fake blood, they know what's coming. Martin McDonagh - writer of 'In Bruges' - has a proven penchant for exquisite black comedy; this production adds something magical in the intimate, immersive presentation. The audience were delighted, in a constant cycle of laughing, gasping and ducking faux-arterial spray. I won't spoil any of the details except to say that is bloody, funny, and bloody good fun.
Hill Street Drama Lodge, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 [Andrew Leask]

Shakespeare In The Garden - A Midsummer Night's Dream (C Theatre)
'A Midsummer Night's Dream' performed on a late summer evening in an Edinburgh garden was exactly as you'd expect - bloody freezing! All the performers did such an amazing job with the Shakespearean classic that it's hard to single out any for recognition, but Hannah Keeley as Puck and James Beglin's Bottom were particularly impressive and clear audience favourites. Still, the setting cannot be ignored, and the main road only a few hundred yards away destroyed the serene quality the production was aiming for, and proved a massive distraction from an already long play. A lovely production, sabotaged by its own gimmick - literally treading the boards may have made this good production into an amazing one.
C south, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Patricia-Ann Young]

X And Y (Black Dingo Productions)
'X And Y' explores the similarities and differences of life as experienced by a gay man from the Maldives, a Jamaican lesbian and a Scottish trans woman. The cast are good, imbuing their roles with believability and avoiding the sometimes stilted delivery that can be found in verbatim pieces. The intercutting of conversations is somewhat less successful, as the narratives don't always mesh well enough to support this conceit. Additionally, while the message about accepting everyone for who they are is laudable, it is a little undercut by the Jamaican woman getting noticeably less stage time than the other two voices. Overall, 'X And Y' is a decent play, but it never quite transcends that.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Andrew Bell]

The Flood (Badac Theatre Company / Escalator East To Edinburgh)
There can't be many shows where the audience is in constant danger of being splattered with real blood. Badac Theatre Company, though, pull no punches – and throw around plenty of raw meat – in their visceral exploration of the nightmare of the trenches. It's a gruelling assault on the senses, where thunderous noise alternates with softly-spoken snatches of heartfelt dialogue between a nurse and her soldier sweetheart. In the cramped, abattoir-like space the atmosphere can feel overwhelming at times, but finely-tuned performances save this from being an unbroken deluge of bleakness. Make no mistake, this starts out difficult to watch and only gets harder, but it's a powerful expression of the indescribable horror of war.
Summerhall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Dave Fargnoli]

The Hive (The Human Zoo Theatre Company)
'The Hive' is set in a futuristic world where people live individually in cubes, communicating exclusively through screens, ruled by an ominous controller. The production is technically very accomplished, with set, lighting, props, poetry and stylised physical theatre all used to wonderful effect. The young cast are all incredibly talented, creating a sympathetic group of heroes and misfits but, unfortunately, the plot lets them down slightly. There just doesn't seem to be anything new here – it feels tired, a rehash of endless dystopian sci-fi fictions. It seems they're aiming for some sort of commentary on our current social media obsession, but I won't be tweeting about this particular show.
Pleasance Dome, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 3/5 | [Gemma Scott]

Naked in Alaska (Legendary Hearts)
Valerie Hager tackles the challenges of a solo show magnificently in 'Naked In Alaska'. She takes us on a journey through the world of Autumn, shy friend of the more confident Raven, who is determined to battle her way to the top of the erotic dancing scene. Hager switches between over a dozen characters from the clubs, demonstrating huge acting ability as she portrays Autumn's refusal to believe that life at the top isn't that perfect. At times it's difficult to watch, but this show is all the more poignant for being a true story. Through her tale of relationships, sacrifice and the desire to be a strong woman, the audience leaves feeling that Hager has shared something very special.
Assembly Roxy, until 25 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Stephanie Gray]

Standby For Tape Back-Up (Ross Sutherland with Show And Tell)
Brains are programmed to see patterns in everything. When his grandfather died, an inherited VHS with snatches of programmes from across the years catapulted Ross Sutherland back to his childhood and became an outlet for his grief. Looping video segments projected onto a large screen, Sutherland looks for deeper meanings in the clips, as he crescendos into a frenzy of complex spoken word. His words are synchronised with split-second precision to the videos as he finds endless depths of meaning in, among others, the opening to 'The Fresh Prince'. Watching the VHS over and over, caught in his own feedback loop, Sutherland peels away at the fragile layers of our minds and memories in a profound and endlessly multivalent show.
Summerhall, until 24 Aug.
tw rating 5/5 | [Tim Bano]

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